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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  January 23, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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culture predating the inkas, such burial practices were banned after the spanish conquistadors arrived. brutal cold and about to get worse, another big storm threat.sthe east coast. surrender, the fugitive accused of kidnapping a baby girl more than two decades ago turns had herself n. next steps, news tonight about the recovery of congresswoman giffords and what her accused attacker faces in court tomorrow. and the legacy, 25 years after "challenger," carrying on and the legacy, 25 years after "challenger," carrying on a beloved teacher's mission.
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captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. in most parts of the country, january is not supposed to be a picnic. on the other hand, this winter is testing even the heartiest among us. tonight, the arctic cold wave that has been gripping the country's midsection has swept into the northeast, sending temperatures in a freefall, with overnight lows expected to plunge well below zero in places and that dangerous cold is teeing up yet another major snowstorm for midweek. nbc's jeff rossen is in new york's times square where the thermometer is expected to drop down to 6 later tonight. jeff? >> reporter: boy, thanks for the good news, lester. good evening to you. if you think it is bad right now, and it is in many spots in the country, it is about to get even worse here in the east, as you mentioned, with windchills in some places overnight into early tomorrow morning reaching 40 even 50 degrees below zero. football fans thumbing their nose today at the thermometer. it felt like 6 degrees in chicago. >> i'm freezing. >> reporter: just as tailgaters
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arrived for the bears/packers game. >> it is getting colder and colder by the second. >> reporter: more than half the country suffering with biting winds and below-average temperatures. annoying, yes. but also dangerous. >> it is going to be so cold tomorrow morning in parts of new england that when you consider the air temperature and throw in the windchill, if you have got exposed flesh, you could get frostbite in as little as ten minutes. >> reporter: which means roads are still icy, causing this tractor-trailer crash saturday. amazingly, no one was seriously hurt. and in pittsburgh -- >> how are you doing? >> reporter: it is so cold, cars won't even start. and yet, on a weekend we all run from the cold, there are people rushing into it, a polar plunge in maryland. in ohio, a beach volleyball event when the windchill hit zero. they lost their shirts and perhaps their minds. this boy scout troop is staying outside for 24 hours straight, sleeping in snow caves.
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>> if it's below zero, they can earn a patch. it's a zero hero award patch. >> reporter: all this on top of all the snow. five storms in the past month alone. the big one hit the day after christmas, more than 20 inches of snow paralyzing new york city and air travel nationwide. january 8th, another several inches in the northeast. january 11th, snow and ice slammed the south. cars stuck in atlanta that buried peopled up two feet of snow. january 18th, snow and sleet blanketed the northeast again. and on january 21st, another seven inches in boston. now, word of another storm coming this week. >> are you kidding me? my god, i am done. i have seen enough snow till next year. >> reporter: i think a lot of people feel that way here in the east. up and down the east coast, really. i know it is supposed to snow in the winter but not like this. lester, for example, in new york city, hartford and boston, they
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have already seen more snow already this season than they usually do in an entire winter. as you know, there are still many months left of winter. >> we know that too well. jeff rossen, thank you. the south is about to get hit with a wintery mix. the weather channel's adam berg is tracking the south for us. good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester, hey, everybody. the south is tired of the snow as well. get to the maps, show you where this puppy is right now. it is going to be developing here across southern texas, then it will slide off toward the east, see there on monday, uth monday, then things get e interesting on tuesday. likely be showers and thunderstorms. that will be the main deal that we will have to worry about across the south on tuesday but then wednesday gets very interesting and it is really dependent on the exact track, if at low moves closer to the coast or even inland, well, it's just a heavy rain bout for all the cities here along interstate 95. it happens to be a little bit farther off coast, that means a lot of snow, colder
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temperatures you are already experiencing now, when you factor in that wind. the track of that low, really important. we want folks to be dialed into the weather channel and nbc and we will continue to update these adam berg, thank you. a major turn tonight on a story we have been following since last week, a woman accused of kidnapping a baby from a new york hospital more than two decades ago surrendered today in connecticut. nbc's tom llamas is at fbi headquarters in bridgeport. tom, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. tonight, federal authorities have charged ann pettway with the kidnapping of carlina white. the fbi believes that she can unlock the mystery of how a 3-week-old was kidnapped from a new york hospital and spent 23 years living a lie. this exclusive video shows ann pettway leaving the fbi office in bridgeport, connecticut. police apprehended pettway and now federal authorities have charged her with kidnapping infant carlina white, the 3-week-old who was snatched from harlem hospital in 1987. >> apparently, she had turned herself into them out in the town of connecticut.
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>> reporter: pettway was on the run, also wanted for breaking probation in north carolina. she disappeared after news broke her daughter, 23-year-old nedra nance, was really carlina white. pettway was spotted yesterday in bridgeport, her hometown, trying to pawn items for cash. >> she was recognized by the clerk at the time. he then made a call to us and when detectives responded to the incident location, they were able to confirm the fact it was her. >> reporter: pettway's mother, who spoke to us behind a closed door, told us she never saw her daughter give birth to nedra. >> i want my baby. she didn't have to do that to me. >> reporter: for more than two decades, the white family has suffered. that all changed last week when police say dna confirmed nedra's true identity. the 23-year-old had long suspected pettway wasn't her real mother. she searched online and found a photo of a missing baby that looked familiar. it was the biggest clue in solving the mystery of her life. pettway is expected to appear in manhattan federal court tomorrow where she will be charged with kidnapping. lester? >> tom llamas, thanks. we turn to the latest now on
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congresswoman gaby giffords, just over two weeks since she was wounded in that shooting rampage in houston. nbc's janet shamlian in houston for us tonight. good evening. >> reporter: hi, lester. a small setback for gabrielle giffords tonight. she may not make it out of intensive care this week. doctors say she has a buildup of fluid on her brain, and while that's not unexpected, it does need to be watched. gaby giffords will remain in the trauma unit of the houston hospital longer than planned, but her rehabilitation hasn't been affected. her husband, astronaut mark kelly, messaging on twitter today, "gabrielle starts her second day of rehab in 20 minutes at memorial hermann. no weekends off for here." for now, a buildup of fluid in her brain is keeping giffords in the hospital's intensive care unit. doctors say the buildup has eased some over the weekend, a good sign. >> there's a little fluid
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collection that the docs there put a drain into around her brain and that drain is still in place. with that drain in place, she can't leave the icu. >> reporter: experts say the fluid is an expected side effect from a brain injury such as giffords and the temporary drain could stay in place as she recovers. >> it's not uncommon at all to have someone with a drain for several weeks. and then what we do is that we try to ween the patient off of this drain, again, by draining less frequently and trying to assess whether or not the brain is capable itself of reabsorbing the fluid. >> reporter: when giffords does move to the rehab center, this room will become her work space. doctors are working with giffords on standing up with help. with a breathing tube in, she isn't able to talk but they believe she is trying to form words and communicate. therapists say that each day, they are asking giffords for a little bit more and they are very pleased with the progress she has made in just three days here in houston. ster? >> janet shamlian, thank you. as for the suspect in the shootings, jared loughner will
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be arraigned tomorrow in phoenix and will enter a plea in federal court tomorrow. as the case proceeds, the question of his mental state certain to be a major legal issue. more on this from nbc's justice correspondent pete williams. >> reporter: given jared loughner's obviously troubled past with students, teachers and police at his community college describing their mental health concerns about him, it's almost certain that his defense lawyers will make that an issue. the first question would be whether he's mentally competent to stand trial. under federal law that means whether he is able to understand the meaning of what's going on in the courtroom or can properly assist in his own defense. step two could be to offer a defense of not guilty by reason of insanity. it's raised in less than 1% of all criminal cases and when it is, juries accept it only about a quarter of the time. legal experts say it could be especially difficult in loughner's case, given the government's claim that he planned the shooting well in advance. >> to be legally insane, they have to not be able to control their activities. they have to not understand the difference between right and wrong.
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that's very difficult in the case where you have evidence of premeditation like they appear to here. >> reporter: it was the shooting of president reagan 30 years ago that made the defense much tougher to win. the verdict that john hinkley jr. was not guilty by reason of insanity led congress to raise the legal burden for proving it and made juries more skeptical. another possibility for judy clarke and other members of loughner's legal team would be to argue that because of loughner's mental problems, he should not face the death penalty, a punishment prosecutors are almost certain to seek. >> raise the defense of day one, simply with the hope of saving the defendant's life once it comes to the sentencing portion of the proceedings. >> reporter: tomorrow, loughner will probably do what most defendants do and offer a plea of not guilty, with the battle
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over his mental state playing out in the weeks to come. pete williams, nbc news, washington. to politics now, and tuesday's state of the union address, president obama will set his agenda for the next year with issues this will likely define the rest of his term as he approaches his re-election bid. nbc's mike viqueira is at the white house for us tonight. mike? >> reporter: good evening, lester. it has been a year of slow growth and high unemployment since the president's last state of the union address. now as he prepares that speech for tuesday night, the economy remains job one. president obama will propose new spending on infrastructure, education and research, but with major debates with republicans coming soon on deficits and the national debt, mr. obama will also put forward spending cuts. today, the gop backed dramatic action. >> we have go after the sacred cows and then we have to go after entitlements and entitlements have to be on the table sooner rather than later. >> reporter: that includes social security, where republicans propose raising the retirement age. >> anyone 55 and older in this country has got to know that their social security benefits will not be changed.
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it is for all the younger people, those 54 and younger, we are going to have to have a serious discussion. >> reporter: the economy and the deficit top the list of issues voters most want addressed in the state of the union. at number four is health care. today, the republican leader in the senate vowed to force a vote on repeal while conceding the effort is likely to fail. >> and we need to try to repeal it overall and then go back after it piece by piece and try to do what we can to keep it from being implemented. >> reporter: and lester, it maybe a symbolic bipartisan gesture, but tuesday night, instead of squaring off, a lot of political opponents will be pairing off, sitting side by side to take in the president's speech. lester? >> mike viqueira, thanks. nbc news will have live coverage of mr. obama's state of the union address tuesday night at 9 eastern time. when "nbc nightly news" continues this sunday evening, a quarter century after the "challenger" disaster, how the lessons of teacher christa mcauliffe live on. and with all eyes on london, the wedding dress still causing a stir here at home. the wedding dress still causing
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as nasa prepares to retire its space shut hadal fleet this year this week marks a as nasa prepares to retire its space shuttle fleet this year, this week marks a somber anniversary that reminds us while shuttle flights became common, they never became routine. it was 25 years ago this coming friday the shuttle "challenger" exploded over florida, killing all seven crew members, including a new hampshire high school teacher.
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christa mcauliffe had hoped to take teaching to new heights but despite the tragedy, her mission continues today. >> this was her last visit to our school. >> christa mcauliffe was the kind of teacher everyone wanted to have. >> let's hear from twila's group back there. >> reporter: and the kind of teach michaela hahn aspires to be. >> i was so sad i never got to take her class my senior year because would you walk by her classroom and you would see her jumping off desks and making things come alive and you could hear her laugh. >> reporter: now teaching in arlington, virginia, hahn was a student at concord high school in new hampshire when christa mcauliffe was chosen by nasa from among some 11,000 applicants to become the first teacher in space. >> to hear that there's going to be a way to talk to a teacher in space, this was all new ideas and how does that happen? >> reporter: mcauliffe trained for a year with the crew of the "challenger" and prepared a series of lesson plans she would teach from orbit. >> t-minus ten. >> reporter: her dream, to inspire students to literally
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reach for the stars. >> we have main engine start. >> reporter: mary liscomb studied teaching with christa. >> teaching is something that i think christa was born to do. >> roger, "challenger." >> reporter: but fate intervened on a cold january morning. >> "challenger," go at throttle up. >> reporter: all seven crew members perished when the "challenger" exploded 73 seconds after liftoff. of course, christa mcauliffe never got to teach those lessons from space, but after all these years, she has reached more classrooms and more students than she likely ever imagined. >> mars control, we acknowledge. we are standing by. >> reporter: in mcauliffe's native massachusetts and some 50 other places, "challenger" learning centers are continuing the educational mission mcauliffe and her crewmates started. at the "challenger" centers, students and often teachers embark on simulated space missions. the aim, to create excitement about math, science and space in schools and demonstrate the
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value of teamwork, the very things mcauliffe and the "challenger" crew had hoped to accomplish. >> i can see how her legacy through this is teaching children how to cooperate, how to communicate, to love math and science. it makes science and technology relatable. >> here is a teacher who took a risk. it didn't turn out the way she expected, but the high hopes she had for education impact all of them every day. they, too, can reach for the stars. >> reporter: today, there are dozens of schools around the world named after christa mcauliffe, but there are countless teachers who have turned her life's story into a teachable moment. >> i always say there's nothing you can't do, you just have to try. and i try to talk in the way i know that christa inspired her students. >> there's more on the legacy of christa mcauliffe and the "challenger" crew our website, nightly.msnbc.com. and up next, a rare and remarkable operation helps a woman regain her voice. >> a lot of work. .
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thers there's late word tonight from detroit, reports of a shooting at a police precinct. at least three police officers have been shot and the gunman has been killed. the gunman apparently walked into that police station and shot a commanding officer and then two others. their conditions were not immediately known. consider this, for only the second time in this country, surgeons have transplanted a larynx, the voice box, into a patient, giving a california woman the ability to speak once again. nbc's george lewis now with the amazing story. >> good morning. >> reporter: it was a good morning. while brenda jensen's voice was raspy, the fact that she had a voice at all was remarkable. >> i want to go home. it's simply amazing. i'm still in shock that this ever happened to me. >> reporter: because of complications following her hospitalization in 1998 for kidney failure, her larynx, or voice box, was irreparably damaged. irrepably
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damaged. she had to speak using an electronic device that gave her had voice a >> reporter: she had to speak using an electronic device that gave her voice a robotic sound. but not now. >> when i wake up in the morning, i reach down and i'm trying to find the machine and then i realize i don't need it anymore. >> reporter: in a difficult and delicate 18-hour procedure, doctors at the university of california davis transplanted the larynx of a dead woman into brenda's neck, connecting minute nerve strands that would make her voice work. >> oh, i just can't thank them enough. i mean, they did a miracle job. >> reporter: the fact that jensen previously had a kidney and pancreas transplant made her a good candidate for this operation. >> so, the biggest risk of this particular transplant, the anti-rejection medications, that risk was not present in her because she was already on them. >> reporter: and her doctors are marveling at brenda's progress. >> she is an amazing person and she is really working hard. >> reporter: and more hard work lies ahead. >> oh oh. >> reporter: in addition to
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doing her voice exercises, brenda will have to learn how to swallow again, as doctors noon remove the breathing tube in her neck. >> totally life changing. >> reporter: relatives joke that these days, brenda doesn't want to stop talking, but they don't mind that one bit. george lewis, nbc news, los angeles. and coming up, elements of style, dresses as only diana could wear them. style, dresses and only diana could wear them. where it's overwhelming. and they've comt oh gee, i'm scared to tell you i've got this amount of credit card debt or i've got a 15-year-old and we never got around to saving for their college. that's when i go to work. we talk, we start planning. we can fix this. when clients walk out of my office they feel confident about their retirement. [ male announcer ] visit ameriprise.com and put a confident retirement more within reach. [ male announcer ] visit ameriprise.com
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we've learned a bit more tonight about the upcoming royal wedding. yes, prince william and kate middleton reportedly do want sarah ferguson, fergie, to attend. and no, we probably will not know who will design kate's wedding dress until the big day. for william's mother, the late princess diana, it was a wedding dress and many more that made her among the most stylish women of her time, and now a exhibition of those dresses is drawing big crowds in this country. we take a look tonight with nbc's peter alexander. >> reporter: she was a unique phenomenon, and in the words of her brother, a glamorous humanitarian. princess diana, the people's princess, captivated the world with a rare blend of sophistication and her sincere common touch.
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>> she came across very warm and she was so caring and i just loved watching her and i loved watching what she wore. >> reporter: already drawing tens of thousands of visitors, the diana exhibit is a celebration, showcasing lady di's striking sense of fashion, like this navy suit she wore to pavarotti's 1991 concert in the park that was drenched by rain. the sequinned black evening gown from diana's 36th birthday, her last public engagement. even that unforgettable protective vest and visor, worn as part of her work to highlight the issue of land mines. the exhibit's on a cross-country tour. pamela roland helped bring it to the grand rapids art museum. >> you are seeing history of a woman that is loved really by so many people around the world. ♪ >> reporter: undoubtedly the dress that defined diana is this
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one, the hand-sewn wedding gown complete with a 25-foot-long train. at the time, princess diana's dress was one of the world's best-kept secrets. it was kept that way by the designers, the emmanuals, who locked it up in a metal cabinet every night and had two security guards stand watch while they were away. to help throw photographers and journalists off the case, they threw fake fabric and lace into the garbage. the exhibit includes mementoes like diana's school girl uniform and childhood photos. visitors or still struck by the magnitude of her loss. across grand rapids, the curiosity for all things royal has become contagious. reporter: as the world the , prepares to welcome kate pids, michigan.nbc news, grand > that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. brian williams will be here tomorrow. i'm lester holt reporting from new york. for all of us here at nbc news, new york. for all of us here at nbc news, good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com

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